BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – A devastating fourth quarter attack by the Wheaton College men's lacrosse team ensured a 10-6 win for the visitors against Massachusetts Maritime Academy after a thrilling first three quarters. The NEWMAC victory dropped the Buccaneers into the conference cellar with one game remaining.
On a horrible night for lacrosse thanks to relentless, driving rain, the Buccaneers' home season came to an end in what started out as a very even matchup. MMA won the opening face-off thanks to the reliable Mike Sharry and, after four shots, the Bucs finally found the net thanks to Alexandre Lucas. It was the fifth goal of the season for the rookie.
The Lyons won the ensuing face-off thanks to Mike Doucette's groundball and Matt Morgan cleared the ball in for Wheaton, finding space for Josh Talanian. Talanian fired home for the equalizer and the game's tone was set.
Three minutes of back-and-forth play elapsed before a Maritime turnover led to a Scott Whear goal for Wheaton, assisted by C.J. Leighton at 9:11.
Neither side took a shot in the next three minutes, but a series of Wheaton shots finished with a turnover by the visitors and Maritime whipped the ball upfield. Franklin Ragge brought the ball in himself and the sophomore beat the keeper for his 14th marker of the campaign.
Once more, the Lyons answered immediately, with Doucette winning the face-off and Griffin Phaneuf giving Wheaton the 3-2 lead at 3:40 remaining in the first.
This time, it was the Bucs who gathered in the face-off groundball. Both teams then turned the ball over in quick succession and a Lucas shot went high, but Maritime brought the ball back and Jake O'Riordan, injured for most of the season, found Andrew Franks with a pinpoint underhand pass just in front of goal and Franks rocketed the ball into the net for a 3-3 draw.
The remaining 1:43 in the quarter elapsed without incident and the first 10 minutes of the second stanza saw the sides race up-and-down the pitch as the rains drenched Clean Harbors Stadium.
It was not until 5:38 remaining in the half that Wheaton took the lead once more. The Lyons picked up a blocked shot by Ben Avakian and moved the ball downfield, with Jack Hounchell finding Leighton for the net-finder.
In recent games, the Bucs have waited till late to attempt their comebacks, but this time, it was yet another face-off grounder that was turned into a Maritime goal. Just 55 seconds after Wheaton's marker, Michael O'Brien found Sean Flaherty and the game was even yet again.
The remaining five minutes ticked down with both sides taking shots, but a Ragge shot on goal turned into a Maritime turnover and Hounchell raced down the field and scored the visitors' fifth goal with less than a second remaining.
After the mid-point break, the Buccaneers came out firing, clearing a Wheaton turnover downfield. Ben Avakian then found his early season goal-scoring mate in Ted Powers, and the score read 5-5. A face-off violation by the Lyons set up MMA once more, and Cody Livermore found the net for the home side's first lead of the contest at 13:08 left in the third.
That advantage would last for nine minutes before Gil Bach caused a turnover in front of Maritime's net and immediately put it by Buccaneer goalkeeper Michael Dolan. Two minutes later, it was Leighton from Matt Morgan following a Colin Walsh save, and Wheaton held a 7-6 lead.
The quarter would end with Wheaton hanging on to the one-goal advantage and the first eight minutes of the final quarter ticked by with both teams taking their chances. It was Wheaton who next found the net, however, with Morgan sending the ball to Talanian at 7:09 for the 8-6 score.
Both clubs threw the ball away in the next few minutes and a second goal by Bach with 4:50 left moved Wheaton's advantage to three. Maritime immediately turned up the pressure with Livermore picking up the groundball on the face-off, but Walsh parried two Lucas attempts and a series of bad passes sent the ball flying up and down the field.
The last turnover put Morgan in position to dish to Talanian once more and the attacker did not miss his chance, eliminating any chance of a comeback with just over two minutes left. Two Blue-and-Gold shots went wide in those final seconds and Wheaton claimed the 10-6 victory.
The stat sheet would suggest the score ought to have been much closer as the Buccaneers held the advantage in shots (37-32), face-offs (12-6), clears (23-of-24 to 16-of-21), and face-off violations (0-4). The other major categories were all quite close, as Wheaton had 28 groundballs to Maritime's 24 and one fewer than MMA's 28 turnovers.
Walsh was the difference in the game, stopping 11-of-17 shots and picking up five groundballs to lead both teams. Talanian led both teams with a hat trick on 11 shots, six on target. Morgan had four assists and Leighton scored three points.
Meanwhile, no Buc had more than one point as the six goals and three assists were shared among nine players. Lucas took 12 shots, putting five on target. Sharry picked up four groundballs and directed the Academy to a 66.7 percent advantage on face-offs as the sophomore continues to excel on restarts.
Maritime drops to 5-8 and 0-6 in the conference and will conclude NEWMAC play on Saturday at Emerson College (5-9, 0-5). Make sure to bookmark www.mmabucs.com and get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Plus, check out our new Instagram @massmaritimebuccaneers.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate